After 30 years of factory work in Northern Tasmania, nothing could have prepared Debbie for the hardships she would face when she was made redundant in 2016.
Searching for work, Debbie lived off her redundancy payments for 18 months before moving onto Newstart.
"It was a shock to the system," she said.
"Budgeting is impossible, there's just no money to budget."
Yet the low level of the payment was not even the most difficult part. It ended up being the impersonal Centrelink compliance system.
"I've followed all the instructions from Centrelink and my job service provider to the letter. My payment has been suspended five times this year - no fault of mine," Debbie said.
Read a rundown of the Senate Inquiry hearing in Launceston here:
"On Wednesday I reported, and at the end it said my payment had been suspended... it just happens all the time, it's too much.
"I'm scared what will happen to me when car registration and insurance comes due. Am I going to be forced to live in my car?"
Debbie was one of three Northern Tasmanians who gave firsthand evidence to a Senate inquiry hearing in Launceston on Friday into the rate of Newstart and the Centrelink compliance system.
Her story was common. TasCOSS told the inquiry that many Tasmanians in their 30s, 40s and 50s who lost their job during the Global Financial Crisis did not find work again.
Another to tell his story was Patrick, of Launceston, whose experience on Newstart as a sole parent to a young child has pushed him to despair.
MORE ON NEWSTART, ROBO-DEBT AND CENTRELINK IN TASMANIA:
"[There's] the stigma of having to leave groceries behind at the shops because my mental maths just isn't quick enough to figure out what I can afford," he said.
"I feel like I'm being told that it would be better if I just wasn't here. It would be easier for Australia if I just disappeared."
There appeared to be no consideration of his physical and mental health when coming up against Centrelink and its compliance model.
"I'm so busy running in circles looking for jobs that aren't there. I have to pretend, and the job service people don't seem to notice," Patrick said.
"They never ask me about my mental health and it's declining.
"The word that keeps coming up in my head over and over is that it's just mean."
His story inspired a relative to launch a petition calling for Newstart to increase $75 per week, gaining 57,000 signatures.
All community service organisations represented at the hearing called for Newstart to be increased straight away, and to have it tied to need, rather than the consumer price index.
The Tenants Union of Tasmania found that rents in Tasmania had increased 141 per cent since 2004, but the CPI had increased 46 per cent.